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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Retailing & Marketing, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 415
1. Podcorn Podcast V4.03- Death of the Direct Market?!

Every Wednesday, I sit down with Brandon Montclare, writer of the hit Image series Rocket Girl and co-writer of Marvel’s upcoming Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series.  We gab about what we’re reading now, what books we consider classics (Brandon loves Dark Knight Strikes Again…), and the hottest gossip of the industry.  Oh, and sometimes the inimitable artist Amy Reeder (Rocket Girl, Batwoman) stops […]

10 Comments on Podcorn Podcast V4.03- Death of the Direct Market?!, last added: 10/2/2015
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2. Diamond Summit ’15: The slowdown is here

Comics sales have been growing and continue to grow, but we’re definitely entering a period of retrenchment and contraction for many, as I reported from this year’s Diamond Retailer summit for PW in a story called At Diamond Summit, Cracks in Comics Market Come to Fore. Pretty much every company has some kind of adjustment […]

3 Comments on Diamond Summit ’15: The slowdown is here, last added: 10/1/2015
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3. Bitch Planet hardcover, Welcome to Showside and more unveil Local Comic Shop Day variants

Local Comics Shop Day is the latest holiday on the comics calendar, to be held November 28th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The date has been promoted as “Small Business Saturday” for a while, but this new date and focus will allow comics shops to tie in to the desire to shop locally and support small […]

0 Comments on Bitch Planet hardcover, Welcome to Showside and more unveil Local Comic Shop Day variants as of 1/1/1900
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4. The Retailer’s View // Quite A Lot Of Variants

Today, I’m staring down the initial order deadline for titles releasing in November. The initial order deadline is something I neglect to realize is coming until a few days before they’re due – and while there’s always a lot of prep that is done ahead of time, going through the order book will still take […]

10 Comments on The Retailer’s View // Quite A Lot Of Variants, last added: 9/22/2015
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5. August sales: so many questions!

And as the month’s charts and solicitations roll out, here’s ICv2’s analysis for August. It is an unsettled time in the universe with some things slipping and others gaining. Both Secret Wars and Star Wars titles are selling very well, but it’s worth noting that sales on both title groups are eroding over time, with […]

4 Comments on August sales: so many questions!, last added: 9/15/2015
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6. The Retailer’s View // DC Youoops

A few months ago, as I was running a deposit to the bank, I ran into the store’s landlord at the terminal next to mine. As we both waited on our tellers to process our various requests, we had a small chat. He asked how the business was going. I replied that the store had […]

10 Comments on The Retailer’s View // DC Youoops, last added: 9/10/2015
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7. Hasbro’s BB-8 winning Force Friday

  Force Friday is here! A brand new holiday established to make people line up and buy toys.  If you can find one, Hasbro’s magnetic BB-8 droid is probably the most desired. My inbox tells me that you can also buy many toys at Target. An exclusive, remote controlled BB-8 droid from Hasbro that moves and sounds just […]

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8. DC Comics Month-to Month Sales: July 2015 – Life, the Universe, and Everything

Greetings, sales charts fans! It's time once again to look at DC's sales figures. (Warning: This month's column contains a higher amount of ranting than usual...) July was not a good month, sales-wise, for DC Entertainment. Compared to June, the average sales per title dropped by over 8K, and they sold 300K fewer total units in the NA direct market, despite offering nine more titles. Sales were down across the board, in many cases significantly, except for one title: Batgirl. Why did things drop so significantly? Three main reasons:

10 Comments on DC Comics Month-to Month Sales: July 2015 – Life, the Universe, and Everything, last added: 8/27/2015
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9. Industry Watch: How much are Hip Hop and other variants propping up Marvel’s sales? — UPDATED

We've already seen today that just jumping on a new, fresh direction isn't enough to make a sales success, but what about over at Marvel? As I've noted their whopping sales have been led by the astonishing success of their Star Wars comics, but variant covers are also strong in this one. Star Wars #1 had over 100 variants, for instance. The upcoming hip hop variant program wasn't just problematic from a creator standpoint, however, it's also set new levels of frustration for retailers who have to order high on other books just to be able to ORDER copies of the variants, as revealed on Reddit by retailer Calum Johnston and explained at the Outhouse. Apparently a frustrated retailers posted the above annotated order sheet for the variants, showing how high order would have to be.

5 Comments on Industry Watch: How much are Hip Hop and other variants propping up Marvel’s sales? — UPDATED, last added: 8/28/2015
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10. Bergen Street Comics is closing

Here’s a story I never hoped to write: Bergen Street Comics, the lovely and much loved comics shop right up the street from Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center is closing, according to a blog post by co-owner Tom Adams. After six amazing years Amy and I regret to announce that we will be closing the shop next […]

10 Comments on Bergen Street Comics is closing, last added: 8/27/2015
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11. Marvel Month-to-Month Sales – July 2015: A Cavalcade of Mini-Wars!

by Xavier Lancel Welcome to a new analysis of the Marvel sales. Reminder: I’m French, and that’s why I’m talking funny. Please address your complaints to my French-people-are-never-happy country. Reminder: the sales data referenced below is  an estimate of sales to comics shops located in North America. American comics do get sold elsewhere in their original floppy […]

9 Comments on Marvel Month-to-Month Sales – July 2015: A Cavalcade of Mini-Wars!, last added: 8/25/2015
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12. The economic reality of indie comics page rates

Over the last year or so, there’s been an increasing amount of talk in creator circles about the low page rates being given out by independent publishers for some of the smaller books.  The last two or three years, publishers have been putting out a lot more titles than they used to and a lot […]

8 Comments on The economic reality of indie comics page rates, last added: 8/24/2015
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13. Self promotion the non-annoying way

We’ve quoted Blerdgurl (formerly Derpygurl) before on promoting at cons, and she has a new post out called 10 Ways to Promote Your Project for Free With Bloggers, Journalists and Podcasters with the subtext of not being annoying. It’s a pretty clear step by step examination of how to get known in the social media […]

3 Comments on Self promotion the non-annoying way, last added: 8/22/2015
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14. How To Make Crowdfunding Sustainable For Comics

A little while back, Brian Hibbs wrote a piece involving the place of Kickstarters in the comics world that still seems to be making the rounds online.  It comes at it from the retailer angle, and as somebody who’s run a few Kickstarters, I have a few different thoughts about how crowdfunding fits into the […]

5 Comments on How To Make Crowdfunding Sustainable For Comics, last added: 8/19/2015
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15. State of the Industry : The floppy abides

And with another "where are we at now" the revamped Trouble with Comics (or "Middle Aged White (mostly) Men on Comics") looks at the state of the pamphlet, or periodical comic, as we like to call it here at Stately Beat Manner. The question, McLaughlin Group style, is

10 Comments on State of the Industry : The floppy abides, last added: 8/11/2015
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16. Manga triumphalism—heck yeah!

As I'm probably too fond of saying, each year's San Diego Comic-Con represents the end of comics' fiscal year, and we're now in a new cycle of sales, renewal and looking forward to the next thing. Although the con was not that memorable on its own, it did mark a new plateau in the direct sales era for comics penetration into the mass media, and for having a variety of voices and genres that the medium has probably has never been seen before. This situation, while far from ideal, still represents a dream come true for a lot of us who have been toiling in the comics industry for a while. I remember as if it were yesterday sitting in various comics industry think tanks in the 90s wondering WHAT could be done to expand the audience for comics, how to bring in genres that weren't superheroes, and how to overcome the tyranny of the "32 page pamphlet" as it was dubbed by either Kurt Busiek or Marv Wolfman, depending on who you ask. These tasks seemed daunting at the time, and it actually took 25 years to get to a place where it could be argued that its true, and everyone at those meetings is a certified old timer now.

4 Comments on Manga triumphalism—heck yeah!, last added: 7/31/2015
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17. Survey: 3 ot of 4 comics shops have at least a quarter female customers

[PHoto from the FB page of our own Brandon Schatz’s new store Variant Comics in Edmundton, AB]

David Harper of Sktchd is at it again with the survey! This time it’s comics retailers. The respondent base is only 25, so a high margin of error, but it does provide a useful snapshot and lots of on the ground observation from the merchant class. Just to cut to the nut pie chart:


More Readers! Bob Wayne! We did it! We made the pie bigger!

I spoke of new and casual readers earlier, and as you can see in the chart above, they’re coming, and they’re coming worldwide. Over 90 percent shared they have seen an influx of new readers in the past five years, with Brower saying, “I can’t tell you why, but every week we experience someone who is in their very first comic shop.” That’s amazing, and promising for the comic industry even if some shops shared their growth is moderate. But at least they are seeing new readers. Even better? They’re being generated by several disparate sources.

Leef Smith of Mission: Comics & Art in San Francisco shared, “Even though I’ve only had the store for just over a five years, I can already tell that there’s been a large influx of cross-over readers, drawn in especially by Saga, The Walking Dead and webcomics.” Neil Farris of Hijinx Comics in San Jose cited comic movies as another boon to his shop, and he wasn’t the only one. Five in total shared that movies and TV shows have driven new readers into their shops.

Hibbs cited digital as a big driver, saying, “digital appears to be functioning as the ‘new newsstand’, introducing people to the market so they can come buy ‘real’ versions.” To have a retailer say that is huge, as years before, digital was oft cited as a potential harbinger of doom for print comics. Now? It’s additive, as several retailers shared.

The most mentioned reason was simple though: women are reading comics more than ever, or at least at the shops I spoke to.

I remember when Brian Hibbs was the leader of the Nights Watch guarding the wall from the digital wildlings, but now, just like Jon Snow, he found out they are valuable allies after all! And unlike Jon Snow, Hibbs won’t be stabbed by his fellow retailers for saying so.

I’ll also share the female customer chart because it’s pretty interesting:

The 25-50% range is well within the 40-50% range we’ve established in numerous demographic studies, numbers which we went over just a couple of weeks ago at the comics readership panel at SDCC. So yeah. WOMAN BUY COMICS. [sic] And we’re saving the industry, just like I predicted! HAW HAW HAW.

You’ll want to read the whole thing but one other interesting statistic. 42% thought it’s the golden age of comics while 38% thought things were good but could be better. I know things can always be better; I also know that comics retailer love to complain about things, so this is a highly sanguine group on the whole.
And finally this piece of wisdom for EVERYONE to digest:

“Like a marriage or any other long-term relationship, it’s something you need to constantly work at,” Thompson said. “Just because you knew comics two, five or ten years ago doesn’t mean you know them now…but if you’re committed to staying on top of things then it’s a rewarding business that can still thrive in this day and age.”

4 Comments on Survey: 3 ot of 4 comics shops have at least a quarter female customers, last added: 7/23/2015
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18. SDCC ’15: Getting Up Close with Entertainment Earth


Entertainment Earth booth at San Diego Comic-Con.

By Nick Eskey

When it comes to collectible toys and popular media merchandise, Entertainment Earth has just about everything. The company first started nearly twenty years ago out of an office and a garage in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. Its founders, who were themselves collectors that knew the struggles of finding that particular toy, wanted to help the many others who had to hunt, or spend inflated resale prices.

Today, Entertainment Earth is now based in Simi Valley. It boasts a large warehouse that carries some of best selection of merchandise available. The website is jam packed with toys, figurines, television/movie memorabilia, and more. They even have their own production line called “Bif Bang Pow!” This allows Entertainment Earth to both house products from others and to produce the kind of merchandise that they themselves would want to buy. One thing they are quite excited for is their recent DC license: We are sure to see much in the ways of DC merchandise.

Kiss band member look-a-like on the 2nd floor of Entertainment Earth booth, here to celebrate the kiss line of merchandise.

Kiss band member look-a-like on the 2nd floor of Entertainment Earth booth, here to celebrate the kiss line of merchandise.

With such growth and offering so much, Entertainment Earth’s booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is hard to miss, with a line of attendees waiting around to buy much of the items on display in their glass cases and on the posters overhead. It’s also one of the lucky few that stand at two stories tall.

Hologram Dark Vader.

Hologram Dark Vader.

Some of the fast moving toys this year have been the blue 20 inch Hologram Darth Vader action figure, the G.I Joe Desert Duel play set, the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler action figures, a variant black Power Rangers Megazord, and the Adventure Time lunch box; they typically sell out early each day. New and exciting additions to the company’s exclusives are always being added on. I few of my favorites are: the Kiss umbrella, Super Hero chair cape, and the Star Wars “Jabba’s Rancor Pit.”

Kiss light up umbrella.

Kiss light up umbrella.

The Kiss umbrella looks ordinary enough when closed. When it opens up, it reveals each one of the band member’s faces in full makeup and costume on the fabric. The umbrella’s pole is probably the best part, lighting up in neon.

Does your chair stand for liberty, justice, and back support? You can show its super status with a Chair Cape. They strap to the back of the chair with Velcro, and fit many sized backings. Right now they have the Batman and Superman Chair Capes available, with future additions in line like Bizarro.

A great addition to any Star Wars collection is this Jabba’s Rancor Pit. The boxed set comes with Luke Skywalker (complete with lightsaber), Jabba, Slave Leia, C-3PO, and a towering Rancor. There’s no guarantee on its availability, so buy while you can.

If you’ve yet to check out the Entertainment Earth booth, I suggest you do so. They’re collectors that cater to collectors. And for those that weren’t able to make it for Comic-Con, luckily Entertainment Earth will be holding back a certain amount of their exclusives for their website, as to give others a chance to still buy. Now if only more retailers did that.

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19. DC unveils “DC You” marketing campaign


There had to be a reason the new West Coast Dc hired all those branding, licensing and content managers. It’s to create a new branding message and it is…”DC You.” Which sounds like it might be an insult but is really a way of saying that these comics are for YOU.

The new DCyou url is live, and here’s the ad campaign. SPOILERS!!!!


DC Entertainment revealed a bold new advertising campaign today titled “DC YOU.”  The campaign shines a spotlight on the New DC Universe (DCU) line of comic books, and reinforces the company’s commitment to creating a diverse offering of titles – something for everyone. 

“With the New DC Universe, there’s a story for every kind of DC Comics fan.  There’s a story for YOU,” stated Amit Desai, senior vice president of marketing and global franchise management, DC Entertainment.   “The DC Comics slate rolling out this summer truly offers a comic book for everyone and our new advertising campaign – DC YOU – celebrates this bold, new direction.”  

Beginning June 3, the new DCU will consist of 24 brand-new series as well as 25 on-going, best selling fan-favorite series, resulting in the most ambitious DC Comics lineup-to-date.   Celebrating the new direction of the DC Universe, the DC YOU advertising campaign will focus on four main themes:

  • Characters – DC Entertainment will highlight its iconic characters, like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as popular characters, such as Batgirl, Black Canary, Bizarro, Cyborg and Starfire.
  • Talent – The campaign will spotlight top writers and artists, as well as emerging fresh voices, who are on board to help create an expansive line of comics that appeals to a broad audience of fans.  Comic talent featured in the campaign include Batman’s Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Superman’s Gene Luen Yang and John Romita Jr., Justice League’s Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok, Justice League of America’s Bryan Hitch, Black Canary’s Brendon Fletcher and Annie Wu, among many others.
  • Stories – The campaign will engage the readership, showcasing the diverse range of styles and genres as well as approaches to storytelling across the New DCU through various taglines, such as Are YOU ready to laugh?, Are YOU ready to hashtag this?, and Are YOU ready for the new awesome?
  • Fans – As the campaign name suggests, the New DCU is first and foremost about our fans and our commitment to creating great stories for all fans.  The campaign will celebrate life-long fans as well as those new to comics.  

DC YOU will appear in print inserts and ads across DC Entertainment’s physical and digital comic books beginning May 20. Digital ads featuring video content will begin airing June 3 across major online platforms.  

The campaign will come to life on the DC Comics website (DCComics.com/DCYOU) and multiple DC Comics social media channels will encourage fans to celebrate and share their DCU via hashtag #DCYOU.  And this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego(July 9-12) will bring DC YOU directly to fans in fun and engaging ways.

As part of DC YOU, DC Entertainment will also offer comic book retailers weekly promotional packs filled with collectible items inspired by the New DCU line of comic-books.  These items will include posters, masks, temporary tattoos, stickers and are sure to encourage fans to visit their local comic book shop each week.










15 Comments on DC unveils “DC You” marketing campaign, last added: 5/22/2015
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20. Exclusive: Titan’s Doctor Who Comics Day poster art from series artist Neil Edwards

The folks at Titan are really teasing their upcoming three four Doctor crossover story line from Hugo-nominated Who writer Paul Cornell, slated for release on August 12 ahead of their second annual Doctor Who Comics Day on August 15. On Monday, Diamond revealed the poster art to advertise the upcoming Doctor Who Comics Day event to their retailers. Drawn by series artist Neil Edwards (Justice League United), you’ll be seeing the art in local comic shops in the near future, but allow us to leak that to you now, Whovians:

DW_Door_Poster_2015_v2 (2)


So we’ve got three Doctors, a TARDIS, and what looks like a rock quarry. No sign of the War Doctor, though…wait! What’s that shadowy figure in the upper left of the lower image?

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21. Listen to all the panels, facts and figures from last week’s conference on French Comics

You all loved it when I tweeted stats, and now you can watch the ENTIRE panel section of last week’s French Comics Conference, held at the French Embassy and organized by Bureau International de l’Édition Française, or BIEF, along with Ivanka Hahnenberger. There’s a brief write-up on the event at the French Culture website. The panels consisted of dual reports on the US and French comcis markets with tons of exclusive statistics with Sophie Castille (Mediatoon) and Étienne Bonnin (Glénat) delivering numbers on France and Paul Levitz (former DC Comics publisher) and Karen Green (Columbia university’s graphic novel librarian), a roundtable on French comics in the US with PW’s Calvin Reid, Mark Siegel (First Second), Adam Lerner (Lerner Publishing Group/Graphics Universe) and Terry Nantier (NBM Publishing), retailer Terence Irvins (Kinokuniya Bookshops) and Consortium Distribution president Julie Schapner; and a report on Digital comics in France with David Steinberger (ComiXology), Claude de Saint-Vincent (Média Participations, Izneo).

This was a very high level event with great information so if you have any interest in world comics culture please check this out. If you can’t see the above video the direct ink is here.

For French speakers with a password, here’s Livres Hebdo’s write up on the event.

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22. The Retailer’s View // Opening Daze

As I’m writing this, it’s Sunday and things are slow. At my former place of employment, Sundays were one of our busier days – people tend to have the day off, and wander into the store looking to blow some of their hard earned cash on comics and other sundry bits of pop culture. Here, we’ve yet to build that casual audience. We’re also not on a main drag, which tends to cut down on a lot of the walk-by traffic. I know that this slowness will change in time – the old shop used to be the same way, with Sunday dragging as the seconds sluggishly slid by until I started kicking up dust and making a bit of noise. We’re just a little over a month in at the new place, and we’re still growing.

What stops me from going crazy on these slow days is the fact that we’ve done exceedingly well in our first month. When we took our projections to the money people, we got a lot of side eye from bankers who (I’m assuming) thought these numbers were a bit off for the launch of a comic shop just a little off the beaten path. Turns out, they were right: we had underestimated how well we would launch significantly, and are now staring at some pretty great looking numbers. We also had enough cash flow and product that this underestimation didn’t wreck our stock right out of the gate, which was pretty nice. All in all – things have been good. Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t quite a few hiccups that occurred. There were, and there continue to be. This is what we’ll be exploring in this installment of The Retailers View – a bit about some of the hard stuff, some of the lessons learned, and about the uh… “joys” of launching your store right as two of the biggest companies in comics publishing run head on into events.

The Retailer's View


First off: grand opening. In the days before our grand opening, we opened the store for limited hours to iron out some of the kinks – and boy, there were some kinks. The biggest was probably the fact that Diamond (the wonderful comics distributor) took it upon themselves to promise delivery of a Point Of Sale system that hadn’t even been shipped by the time we had been promised it would arrive at our shop. Another sizeable kink took the form of ethernet wiring that the contractor decided didn’t need termination points, so we had a bunch of opened ended chunks of wire strung through our shop, without the means to… I don’t know, connect them to anything? Which was also fun. These two problems cemented two valuable lessons for me: never trust an outside body to follow through on their promises, and always, always, always assume that a contractor will cut a corner unless you’ve written specific language preventing them from doing so into their contracts. Going forward, these two lessons helped prevent a mountain of potential problems from occurring, which was paramount to launching as well as we did.


One of our store’s branding images, by Dylan Todd.

Part of the reason our Grand Opening went over so well was the fact that we hit the pavement hard in terms of getting our name out there. Our resources were relatively small, having what was effectively a budget of pocket change for marketing. To that end, I worked several existing connections to make a go of things. I’d already had a nice working relationship with one of the local television affiliates, so we arranged for an appearance the day before our big grand opening. We took to Twitter and spread the word, and ended up on two local podcasts – one specializing in various bits of media, and another focusing on local happenings – and “appeared” on the local CBC Radio One afternoon program “Radioactive”. We set up a store signing of the book The Outside Circle that featured art from a very talented acquaintance of mine, and that really amped up some of the sound we were making – especially given the quality of the story and talent involved. (By the way, if you see a copy of The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson and Kelly Mellings, you should get it. It was the #1 selling graphic novel on Amazon in Canada, and it’s really great plug plug plug.) One of my friends also helped set up a table of David’s Tea in the shop, complete with workers, and at the end of the day, told us that we had the best showings they’d been to all year, which was cool to hear. Oh, and we launched on Free Comic Book Day because… seriously, what other day is going to have this much publicity for the industry as a whole?

So, the day itself ended up going incredibly well. There was a small line of people waiting out front before we opened, there was a constant stream of people all day long, I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in several months, and quite a few new faces. I also got some awesome surprise kicks from my family.

Sweet Kicks

Sweet kicks from the fam-jam.

At the end of the day, we decided that we’d all head out and eat and drink in celebration, but we only got as far as the “eating” before we felt so tired we called it a night. The next day, we manned the store as heaps on the ground. The cool tiles felt nice on our faces. So there was that.


Beyond dealing with “opening” and “helping customers”, we spent a large chunk of our time getting all of our ducks in order for various distributors. Obviously we had Diamond set up long before our official opening but a store doesn’t quite run on Diamond alone. Or at the very least, it really shouldn’t. The longest set up had to be with Wizard’s of the Coast, which is still a bit of an ongoing process. Not only did they require the most hoop-jumping (take pictures of our product on your shelves before we send you any product, being my favourite), but they set those hoops up in tiers. The business’ Magic: The Gathering guy is the point man on all of that, so I’m not entirely up on the name of where we are now, but we just got ourselves bumped up from “being open” through to “Level 2”, which finally lets us order product from them, and sanction pre-releases with prize support. Not bad for a month’s worth of work, but it was a lot of work just to give someone our money. Even though I know why the hoops are there (one third “no randos getting retail pricing, one third customer appreciation, and one third incentivizing) I still think it’s silly to have a retailer go through so much just to be able to purchase things directly from you.

Variant Edition Store Front

That said, the bulk of these processes have been smooth enough – it just takes a bit of effort and a lot of patience (see the lesson regarding outside bodies and follow through) and suddenly, you’re golden. The real trick has come with figuring out our opening orders for comic series.

After working eight years in the industry, I’ve honed a system for ordering comics. The problem, of course, is that system requires some kind of ordering history and pre-built audience to function – so once more, I find myself flailing around like I did in my earlier days as the manager of the old shop – though that flailing has an air of learned confidence to it. What certainly hasn’t helped is the fact that when I was able to finally start placing orders, DC was entering Convergence (which I could have almost skipped ordering entirely… almost) and Marvel was a hair away from launching into Secret Wars. Now, on the plus side, having two of the industry’s biggest publishers on the cusp of relaunching their lines when you open your business can work in your favour – as you’re looking for new customers, they are literally serving up a platter of new number ones and jumping on points. On the downside, you’re making blind guesses based off a clientele you don’t entirely know, and completely new products. It’s a hard bit of business to guess on, and we’re still settling into what our numbers will be (only to see things blow up again when Marvel goes into their All New, All Different switch later this year), but we at least know enough that we haven’t blown our budget on things that just aren’t going to sell.

For those interested, the clientele seems to be a bit everywhere when it comes to single issues, with Secret Wars sitting comfortably at the top of the heap, due to Marvel absolutely nailing their Free Comic Book Day offerings, and the rest is a grab bag of independent publications and corporate comics. The real draw – beyond the perpetual (and quite different) churn of Magic: The Gathering cards – seems to be graphic novels, which in hindsight, is perfectly reasonable. Our goal with the shop has been to seek out and cater to new readers and build an audience using the diverse medium to hook in as many people as possible. Having hit this note, we find that a lot of people are discovering the medium through graphic novels, craving a complete experience as their gateway rather than parts of a whole. As a result, we’ve switched our ordering practices slightly to accommodate for this switch, so we’ll see how that goes in the coming months. Maybe we get an influx of people who just want single issues or superhero stories. Maybe this trend continues and pushes us into a completely different market than the old shop I worked at. It’s really hard to say, but I’m more than happy to find out.

Variant Edition High Fives

All three owners celebrating after the grand opening. That’s me in the back, my wife Danica to the right, and our business partner Brendan Capel to the left.


There are so many other things I could talk about in regards to the first month, but I don’t think I’d be able to do everything justice and still keep your attention. I mean, I honestly believe that most of you have checked out by this point, preferring my columns where I spit fire at folks or burn through a bit of the mechanics of how comics retail in general – so in interest of not losing you lonely brave souls here at the end, I’m going to work through the rest as a series of bullet points.

  • Right after we had our grand opening, we started running a store podcast called Yegs and Bacon, which serves as a super awkward look at the week’s comics and recent pop culture news in a loose “morning show” format. Yes, trying to claim that a podcast can be a “morning show” is inherently ridiculous. No, we don’t really care. It’s a nice, fun thing that has let our customers into our lives a little, and folks seem to be responding to that quite a bit.
  • Whether you’re an old shop or a new shop, people are always looking to offload their old collections on you. More often than not, when you bring up the fact that you work at or own a comic shop in the wild, someone around you will tell you about how many comics they used to buy and proceed to ask if you’re interested in buying them. It’s gotten to the point where I’m shocked if this doesn’t happen at least once when I’m out and about. For the record, we are taking comics, but we’re not paying much for them. As I said above, we’re a shop that’s aimed towards new readers, so our back issues are filled with relatively inexpensive product. Even the comics that are supposedly “worth money” are going for relatively cheap because collectors eventually quit collecting, whether it’s because they’ve completed their quest, run out of money, moved, got married, had kids, bought a house, or “bought a farm” – whereas readers are everlasting – and there’s nothing that will chase off a reader faster than a $100 comic that they can read online for $2. You want to make sure you’re around years and years from now? Stop wheeling and dealing with the insular crowd, and start sharing the medium with others. That’s my advice, anyway. Again, we’ll see how this business model works, but for now, we seem to be doing pretty great.
  • We are very new, and our marketing budget continues to be relatively small, so we’ve been utilizing the hell out of social media. Facebook and Twitter tend to be where we’ve found the most traction, but to be fair, I think it’s also because I’ve already developed the habits of posting on both. Anyway, both of those do this thing where you can see how well certain tweets do with audience engagement. Some parts of it even let you compare your stats with that of others, which is surely going to lead me down the path to madness one day. For now though? It lets me know that we’re doing a pretty good job of engaging our audience with our style of posting. After all, you can post a million times a day, but if you’re not engaging your audience, it really means nothing. So we’re quite pleased with all that.
  • Our website is slowly coming together. The site was meant to have a fairly comprehensive online store, but that hit quite a snag when we couldn’t get out point of sale system working in time to really push things before grand opening – so we’re still putting some pieces together on that front. That said, we’ve placed subscriptions to series up on our site for people to peruse and add to their files, and more than a few have taken advantage of this. We have a request to build in a part where you can adjust your file online, but that has to wait until we have the bonus money to pay someone to code that to our liking. No sense in me building a clunky program that breaks or using a second party platform when there’s still a working system in place – better to wait and do things right when the opportunity arises.
  • Speaking of our website, you know what people like? Communication. Specifically, through your site. Having a blog has honestly brought more eyes to our business than anything else – plus it helps out with content for our social media feeds. The only trick? Keeping the blog updated. I can point to almost every other store in this city, and find the dead husk of a blog attached to their site. If I look outside the city, I can find a few shops that use their blog and online presence to talk shit about the things that they are selling which… is dumb. To say the least. I’ve never been able to grasp why someone would use their store’s online presence to bury creators or projects. Anyway, it should go without saying, but if you’ve committed to an online presence in any capacity, keep it moving, and keep it positive – at least in reference to the products that you’re selling. There’s more I could say about that, but that’s another column for another day.
  • Oh, and about our sign? So. The landlord had approved our sign (as required by our lease), and then once we got it processed and paid for, he came back to us and asked if we could do a metal sign instead, to match the signage already on the building. We eventually came to an agreement that we would use the sign we already had made for the first few months until we could get a metal sign done up to our liking ($$$$), but in order to avoid having weird holes in the front of the building when the metal sign finally came in, we just hung our sign on the inside of the shop. Not ideal, but it works… for now.
  • And finally, if starting up the store wasn’t enough, the wife and I moved out of our apartment at the end of the month, and in with her parents. The idea is to save a few dollars while we look for a new place for later in the year. So far, things are working out, and we’re glad we did it because – while the store looks like it would support us while paying our full rent, getting our saving rebuilt is one of our primary concerns. The only trick was, it added a heap of extra stress to this whole process.

And on that note, I’m going to wrap things up. You’ve been through enough, and I have roughly ten ideas for other columns that I should probably get to work on. One of them involves a new start up company that’s doomed to failure. Another is going to dig in deep into mass launches and what it means for retailers and fans alike. Something new and crazy is happening in this industry every week, and so you’ll be seeing a lot from me, now that the dust has settled a little more.

Until next time.

[Brandon Schatz is an owner of Variant Edition in Edmonton, Alberta and has spent the past nine years working behind the comic book counter. In his spare time, he writes about the comics and culture. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson and at his website, Submetropolitan. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat.]

1 Comments on The Retailer’s View // Opening Daze, last added: 6/11/2015
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23. Barnes & Noble Announces “Get Pop-Cultured” Events for July!

They did it last year, and had some success (I’ve only heard rumors… B&N doesn’t give out attendance figures), so Barnes & Noble once again are hosting “Get Pop-Cultured”, a month-long series of pop culture events turning your local B&N into a mini comic con!

The landing page is here, but let’s make a nice calendar, so you’ll know when to line up when for what. (Like any good comic con, there’s a Starbucks, pretzels, and the restrooms will probably have a line.) If you’d like to download an event, find your friendly neighborhood B&N by using this link. You’ll be able to download each item to your favorite calendar app.

Like last year, B&N is anchoring the month-long event to Comic-Con International, using the media buzz to ignite

So, what’s the cool stuff? Vinyl. Exclusives. Strict-on-sale dates for Dr. Seuss and Harper Lee! Freebies. In addition to the events, there will also be lots of merchandising going on in the store, so check those displays! (And something new and exciting in the graphic novel aisle!)

The PR:

This July, join us in stores for a monthlong celebration of pop culture!


All month: Throwback Thursdays

Join us every Thursday for a nostalgic journey as we relive the most iconic moments in pop culture from the 1950s through the 1990s. Come explore the dynamic influence that books, toys, games, music, movies, TV, and fashion had on society. On July 2, it’s a throwback to the 1950s; on July 9, it’s the 1960s; we’ll celebrate the 1970s on July 16, the 1980s on July 23, and the 1990s on July 30.


July 3–5: Time Travel Weekend

On July 3 at 7pm, we’re celebrating Doctor Who! Enjoy trivia, giveaways, a special offer, and more. Come dressed as your favorite character and join the fun. On July 4 at 10am, we’re traveling back millions of years with Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before DarkYoung paleontologists are invited to explore the age of dinosaurs with fun activities, giveaways, and a special offer. On July 5 at 2pm, be transported to the intriguing world of Outlander with trivia, giveaways, and more.


July 8–12: DC Comics™ Days

Come in for a special offer on all DC Comics graphic novels and get a free “Young Gotham” comic collection and poster while supplies last. Also enjoy other giveaways and activities. Cosplay is welcomed!


July 9–12: Comic Convention Collectibles

While supplies last, pick up shared exclusive collectibles from Diamond Select Toys, Funko, and Titans.


July 13 and 14: Harper Lee Celebration

On July 13, all stores nationwide will read To Kill a Mockingbird from start to finish. The read-a-thon will feature a variety of special guest readers, including authors and local celebrities. On July 14, Go Set a Watchman goes on sale! Visit our Cafe stores from 7am to 10am and get a free tall coffee with your purchase of Go Set a WatchmanPlus, the first 20 customers to buy the book will receive a free exclusive To Kill a Mockingbird reusable tote.


July 17, 7pm: Minions Fun

“Bello!” (That’s how Minions say, “Hello!”) Sign up now for our Minions Fun event. Become a certified Minion and attend Villain-Con in our stores to help search for the most despicable villain to follow. Activities and giveaways round out the fun. Contact your local store to sign up.


July 18: Star Wars™ Saturday

Fans of all ages join us for exclusive products, activities, cosplay, trivia, and a chance to win a Star Wars character standee (no purchase necessary. Must be 13 or older). See a bookseller for complete details.


July 19: Manga Mania

Discover this popular style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels. Enjoy a special offer, activities, and giveaways.


July 24, 7pm: Fangirl Friday

Fangirls unite and celebrate fandom. Get introduced to the Women of Marvel, enjoy cosplay, giveaways, and much more. And while supplies last, pick up the Vinyl Vixen Metallic Wonder Woman, available only at Barnes & Noble.


July 25: Vinyl Day

Explore our assortment of vinyl records with events celebrating vinyl culture, including giveaways, special offers, and exclusives.


July 26: James Patterson Day

Celebrate America’s bestselling author with a special one-day-only offer on all adult, kids’, and teen books by James Patterson.


July 28, 7pm, and July 31, 7pm: Dr. Seuss Spectacular

What pet should we get? In celebration of the newly discovered Dr. Seuss book What Pet Should I Get?kids of all ages are invited to help us decide what pet we should get at a special Storytime event on July 28 at 7pm. On July 31 at 7pm, join us for the Dr. Seuss Spectacular, a celebration of Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to the world as the beloved Dr. Seuss. There’s fun to be done!


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24. The Loot Crate Effect Reaches “Cartoonish Levels” on Comics Sales

Note: The distribution numbers used below are estimates, not hard sales numbers.  They’re accurate to the trends, but take the exact unit measurements with a small grain of salt.


Recently, Comichron released Diamond distribution numbers for May 2015.  To little astonishment at the feat but some awe at the scale, Marvel’s Secret Wars #1 took the number one slot for the month with 527,678 copies distributed to stores by Diamond, besting the distribution of DC’s April event book, Convergence #1, by nearly 400,000 copies.  Interestingly, however, Boom’s Bravest Warriors: Tales from the Holo John #1 took the number two slot with 502,737 copies distributed, besting series based on established properties including Star Wars #5 (146,850), Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #1 (131,839), and Secret Wars #2 (210,807).  In a world where even DC struggles to pull outstanding numbers on event books, which are traditionally considered to be defibrillators for comic sales, it’s surprising that a new title from one of the smaller major publishers pulled such a high distribution volume.  How did Boom pull it off?  Well, as Comichron writer John Jackson Miller notes in his analysis, “nearly 500,000 copies” were bought by Loot Crate, the largest nerd potpourri vendor on the internet.


According to the statistical analysis presented in the article, it is clear that the Loot Crate Effect has begun to not only change, but completely distort the direct market.  Comic sales were up by $5,800,000 compared to May 2014, but $2,500,000 of that was thanks to the mass order Loot Crate placed on Holo John.  That’s nearly half of the distribution growth.  In a superficial analysis, you might think that this doesn’t really matter.  After all, sales are sales, right?  Regardless of who is buying or who ultimately ends up with the comic, greater sales mean healthier publishers.

However, while Loot Crate is definitely helping line publishers’ pockets, they aren’t nearly as helpful as you might expect.

Where we don’t see the distortion is in Diamond’s dollar shares, which only look at the dollars it was paid — and there, Boom is in fifth place. According to Diamond’s dollar rankings, it sold 2.4 copies of Bravest Warriors for every Secret Wars #2 it sold — and yet the distributor made more money on Secret Wars #2. Since Secret Wars #2 and Bravest Warriors cost the same — $4.99 — that would indicate that Loot Crate got a much better deal from Boom at wholesale on its copies than retailers got from Marvel.

What this means is that even though Boom’s market share is rising in terms of quantity, the company’s profit margins aren’t improving enough to match that growth.  Not only that, but there’s no quantifiable proof that readership improves after companies dump large quantities of a single issue into Loot Crate’s hands.  October 2014’s The Walking Dead #132 is one of the best performing single issues of the 21st century with 326,300 copies distributed, over 200,000 of which were purchased by Loot Crate.  Meanwhile, September 2014’s sales of issue 131 are reported to be 69,810 and November 2014’s sales of issue 133 stand at 68,093.  There was actually a net loss of readership following The Walking Dead‘s appearance in the Loot Crate.


It’s harder to determine the effect that Loot Crate has on the readership of series that have their first issue included in the service.  Rocket Raccoon #1 sold 311,000 copies, over 200,000 of which were bought by Loot Crate.  Issue 2 sold 56,597 copies, which presents a steep drop in readership even if you ignore Loot Crate’s wholesale order on issue 1.  That’s not an atypical performance trend in comics, but it does serve as addition indication that Loot Crate isn’t really helping sales in the long term.

Like event books, it seems like Loot Crate has become another sales defibrillator– a way to improve sales in the short term that doesn’t necessarily help the industry grow in the long run.  On the plus side, selling mass orders to Loot Crate has a much lower production cost than the creation of a new event series, where you have to hire writers, artists, and saddle marketing with a lot of additional work.  With Loot Crate, you just pull the trigger and print more copies of the book you already paid to have made anyways.  Unfortunately, this new method doesn’t seem to pad profits nearly as much as event books do.

4 Comments on The Loot Crate Effect Reaches “Cartoonish Levels” on Comics Sales, last added: 6/18/2015
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25. DC Comics Available for the First Time on Public Library App Hoopla


In their struggle to stay relevant in the technology-obsessed 21st century, many public libraries have turned towards e-book services to keep membership levels high.  Historically, comic book publishers have been slow to embrace digital reading, with Dark Horse Comics only having joined Comixology this week.  However, today DC Comics began its partnership with public library e-book app Hoopla to bring select titles to subscribers around the United States.

Right now, 18 titles are available via the service, comprised of a number of collected trades including Batman: The Long HalloweenWatchmenSuperman: Red SonFinal Crisis, and The Killing Joke.  In order to access these titles, you will need a local library membership at a branch that supports Hoopla.  According to Engadget, Hoopla will add additional DC titles to its library each week, and there will be over 200 DC titles available for borrowing by the end of the summer.  Hoopla’s digital service uses an “action view” feature akin to Comixology’s guided reading mode.

It’s great to see major comic book publishers like DC providing free access to titles and supporting local libraries.  Comics are an expensive hobby, and the cost can be a major turnoff for new readers.  Granting the public access to classic titles like Watchmen will hopefully expand paid comics readership in the long term.  For now though, I need to get a new library card.

3 Comments on DC Comics Available for the First Time on Public Library App Hoopla, last added: 6/25/2015
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